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What is the start of labour defined as?

(9 Posts)
StealthPolarBear Sat 26-Jul-08 13:27:08

Something I've been wondering for a while!
First contraction? Waters breaking?
Or is it 3cm dilated?
How do people know when they are 'in labour'

SqueakyPop Sat 26-Jul-08 13:32:57

regular contractions that can be timed with a clock.

StealthPolarBear Sat 26-Jul-08 14:03:17

mine were never regular But that's a bit clearer, thanks.

SqueakyPop Sat 26-Jul-08 14:05:33

a few people do have 'incoordinate uterine action' (got to love those medics )

StealthPolarBear Sat 26-Jul-08 14:08:31

That means I am uncoordinated right down to my uterus then?!
They were 20 minutes apart sometimes when I was pushing, I actually slept in between them!

SqueakyPop Sat 26-Jul-08 14:13:26

Did they vary in timings or move along a predictable line? My first four were very predictable and ordinary - 20 minutes apart, 10 mintues, 5, 3, 2, 1 etc, getting longer in duration too.

My fifth baby was breech, and we didn't get any closer than every 10 minutes, but they did get more intense (ie longer and more painful).

Although my ctx seemed to stop moving in terms of time, they never moved backwards. I also did all the usual things for me, such as throwing up and wanting to stop and come back the next day.

StealthPolarBear Sat 26-Jul-08 14:16:06

they were irregular until the point at which i couldn't have timed them any more. Don't think they got more regular.
I just always wonder about this when people talk about length of time in labour - I can't decide if I had a long labour or short! The MW asked me as she had to put it on a form, we made it up in the end!

StealthPolarBear Sat 26-Jul-08 14:16:28

predictable I mean, not regular

SqueakyPop Sat 26-Jul-08 14:27:38

Not being able to discern between a long and short labour is very telling.

There is a thing called 'long latent phase'. The latent part of labour (as opposed to active) is when your contractions are effective but not timed as regular. They may be working to get the baby into the right position, without actually dilating your cervix.

With my fourth child, I had a very long latent phase - it started a week before active labour (with a bloody show). When active labour finally kicked in, she was born within 90 minutes (which was a shock).

On Day 1, I was very deflated when an old-school midwife declared that I was not in labour (with all this pain!!!), but the young midwife talked about latent phase and multip os, which was much more comforting (and less embarrassing when you are such an expert with no. 4).

If you are having a long latent phase, or strong Braxton Hicks, be comforted in the knowledge that each contraction is one that you don't need to have again. They are all working to get the baby into the right position for birth, so that the actual event will be much easier (ie my 90-minute labour).

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